Every year employers lose a lot of valuable work hours because of the flu and many other diseases. The following six steps are designed to foster good health among your employees and to reduce the number of work hours that you lose due to staff sick days.
1. Establish clear rules regarding absence due to sickness
If your absenteeism policy is vague or open to interpretation, some employees can take advantage of it to miss work while using sickness as an excuse. While you want sick employees to rest and recover at home or in the hospital, you also want to make sure that there are protocols in place that have to be followed to prevent cases of dishonesty. Have the HR department come up with a set of rules and guidelines that dictate how employees should report their sickness. Guidelines should cover the method of making reports, the deadline by which employees ought to make the reports, and to whom such reports should be made. You can ask employees for notes from their doctors, but you have to ensure that you don’t infringe on their privacy. Ensure that your policies are enforced in a vigilant but fair manner.
2. Allow employees to take non-medical leave or to work from home
Employees are more likely to lie about sick days when they not given any time off. Reports have shown that employees who have school-aged children are more likely to lie about being sick during school holidays because they are trying to deal with their parental responsibilities. By allowing your employees to take non-medical leave from work, you are giving them the time they need to put their affairs in order, and this will allow them to be more focused when they return to work. In the modern workplace, it is possible to allow employees to work from home on certain days. Employees who have the flexibility to work from home are less likely to call in sick, and they will still meet their quotas even if they are away from the office. Flexible hours or non traditional hours is another way that can help employees to balance their other commitments with their work commitments more easily, reducing the need for them to call in ‘sick’.
3. Create a comfortable work environment
Employees are more likely to call in sick if the work environment is a negative one. If your workers are under too much pressure, are overworked, or their efforts are not appreciated, they are likely to develop a negative attitude towards work, and they are much more likely to feign sickness in order to skip work. Ensure that your employees coexist harmoniously and that there is a strong sense of community in the office. Looking after the welfare of your employees mental and emotional wellbeing is good for business because happy employees are more productive. Providing practical support to workers returning after parental leave is one example. You should ensure that you effectively deal with all conflicts that may arise, in order to resolve them and to discourage future conflicts. Employees can opt to feign sickness so that they don’t have to deal with their colleagues. Ensure that bullying, sexual harassment and other forms of conflict are strictly prohibited in the workplace.
4. Encourage employees to take preventative measures
You should encourage your employees to take preventative measures so as to avoid common illnesses such as the flu. You can organize for healthcare professionals to give talks to your employees, or you can hang informative posters and circulate emails around the office to increase awareness. Posting reminders around the office about washing hands, and other good hygiene practices can reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks in the workplace. Encourage your employees to take vaccinations. You should also ensure that your employees have access to sanitary and germ-fighting products. Stock up on tissues, trash cans, hand sanitizer, and clean drinking water. You should also see to it that your janitorial staff employ good cleaning practices around the office.
5. Don’t force sick employees to come to work
As an employer, you lose more money when sick employees show up to work than you would if they didn’t. If sick employees feel obligated to come to work, their productivity will be low, and they are likely to spread the disease to other employees. Let your employees know that they will not be punished for missing work when they are genuinely sick, as long as they call to say that they will be absent and that they provide notes from their doctors.
6. Encourage your employees to exercise frequently
Many health issues come as a result of sedentary lifestyles. You should encourage your employees to exercise for the sake of their health and wellness. For most white-collar professionals, the health risks associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time is almost as dangerous as smoking. Employees who exercise frequently are less likely to be stressed or to catch a cold. You should encourage your employees to take breaks so that they can walk outside, and you should offer them flexible hours so that they can have time to work out. You can also organize sporting events, pickup games, and charity walks or runs.